In the latest trailer for "Man Of Steel," mysterious evildoer General Zod demands that the people of Earth hand over Superman... "or else." But who exactly is Zod, and why should humanity be afraid? Well, because he's Superman's Khan, that's why.
Of course, if you're not a longtime "Star Trek" fan, or you haven't seen "Star Trek Into Darkness" yet, that may not mean much. But Khan Noonien Singh, better known as Khan, is essentially the greatest foe that Captain Kirk ever faced -- in the movies, certainly. Conversely, Lex Luthor is probably the villain most often identified with Superman, thanks to not one, but two iconic performances, by Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey, respectively. But Zod, played by Terrence Stamp, was the superhero's true equal, a formidable physical presence who shared all of Superman's powers. But more importantly, he also has a back story that links the characters inextricably.
Although "Star Trek Into Darkness" reinvents the characters' history to suit Abrams' timeline, the original Khan shares a long history with Kirk -- first appearing in the "Star Trek: The Original Series" episode "Space Seed," where the Captain revived him only to later banish him to Ceti Alpha Five, where he and his followers struggled for decades to survive. The cumulative resentment of that struggle forged a need for revenge -- an abiding hatred of Kirk -- that drove him to pursue the Captain, and destroy anyone who got in his way. In "Superman II," Zod was exiled to the "Phantom Zone" by Superman's father, Jor-El, and when Jor-El's son accidentally freed him and his minions, Zod descended upon Earth and began his campaign of terror and revenge against the one remaining person whom he could blame for his imprisonment.
Of course, it remains to be seen how much of the mythology of the early "Superman" films that director Zack Snyder preserves in his film. Especially since, much like with Abrams' reimagining of the "Trek" franchise, Snyder must cater as much to newcomers as to longtime Superman fans. But everyone who goes to see "Man Of Steel" should know that Zod is no villain to trifle with, and that however Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan interpret him, he'll definitely produce some hardcore action that audiences will not want to miss.
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